I thought I was going to vomit on the train heading into work this morning. I was scrolling through Twitter when I came across a link to Wales Online. I don’t watch the news in the evening, so I hadn’t seen this headline until this morning. “Welsh Government lawyer and police officer jailed for sex attacks on young children” was the header. It wasn’t the header that threw me it was the photograph of the two perpetrators, one of which I knew. You don’t expect to see the face of people you know under headlines like that one. It was like a kick in the stomach.
I worked with Dean Roberts for 5 years in a former job, he was Police Community Support Officer and I was a Communities First Development Officer. Dean and his colleagues would work with us on different community projects and represent South Wales Police at community meetings for us. It was more than a working relationship though it was a friendship, we would regularly chat and banter over coffee in the office and when he got married he and his wife invited me. I was so happy for him, he was such a nice guy and a good laugh. It was a lovely ceremony and we had a really nice day. In 2012 I changed jobs and left the area. We stayed in touch through social media. When he applied for the regular Police force and got accepted I was so pleased for him. A short time later he cheated on his wife. I was gutted and disappointed for his wife when they split up and unfriended him on Facebook. I didn’t see him again. Until this morning. His mug shot staring up at me from my phone screen.
I had no idea of the crimes Dean would go on to commit, neither did his ex-wife or his parents or his friends or colleagues. You cannot tell a paedophile from the way they look, or dress or speak. I can’t speak for all survivors of sexual abuse I can only speak for myself, but I would say this. Predators like Dean and my father and other paedophiles are experts at hiding their true nature. They portray themselves to be confident and charming. Their power lies in secrets and shame. They abuse and continue abusing because they make the victim feel inferior, embarrassed and ashamed. Abusers will tell you that no-one will believe you. They will persuade you that they are justified in their abuse because you either owe it to them or you encouraged them. This is not true. Abusers will create a relationship based on fear and intimidation. As a victim you feel powerless and ashamed.
When you speak out, you take away their power. The truth is abusers operate in this way because they know that their victims WILL be believed. They must project the blame onto the victim because they cannot bear the weight of the guilt themselves.
The most important thing I want say to anyone reading this who has suffered this type of abuse or is currently in this situation is – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. YOU WILL BE BELIEVED.
You did not and do not deserve it and you are not alone.
It is not okay and it can stop.
If you have concerns about a child you can report it here https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/
If you are child who is being abused you can talk to someone about it here https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/contacting-childline/